Voted on by a group of Hollywood insiders, from producers’ assistants to studio development executives to talent agents, the Black List has quickly become the barometer for what scripts that people in the industry are reading and liking. The annual list is compiled anonymously and consists of screenplays that have been making the rounds.
The 2009 edition hit email in boxes yesterday and as expected, it contains some scripts that people expected to see and a few surprises. While the List is generally considered to celebrate screenplays that haven’t gotten a greenlight yet, there are always are a few that make the list which are in some stage of active production and this year’s list is no exception, including this year’s number 2 script, The Social Network, writer Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the same-titled book that charts the creation of the social networking website Facebook. Interestingly, there are a couple of book adaptations, comic book adaptations, a remake and even a rewrite or two that differed significantly from the original material to warrant people to vote for their inclusion. And as in occasional years past, there are a couple of scripts whose log-lines sound coincidentally familiar. This year, Betty’s Ready and The Handjob both center on teengirls seeking their first sexual experiences. Celeste & Jesse Forever and I Hope We Can Still Be Friends also share similar plots, this time about divorcing couples who vow to try and remain friends.
Below are the top 10 (actually 11, due to a tie) scripts on this year’s list. You can download the entire here. In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll have in depth reviews of several of these titles.
1) The Muppet Man by Christopher Weekes – A look at Jim Henson’s life, the creator of the most famous puppet franchise of all time, The Muppets.
2) The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin – A look at the rise of Facebook and the effect it’s had on its founders.
3) The Voices by Michael R. Perry – Jerry, a schizophrenic worker at a bathtub factory, accidentally kills an attractive woman from accounting. While trying to cover his bloody tracks, Jerry starts taking advice from his talking (and foul-mouthed) cat and dog.
4) Prisoners by Aaron Guzikowski- When his young daughter and her best friend vanish on Thanksgiving Day, Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands, imprisoning and torturing the man who he thinks did it. But does he have the wrong man?
5) Cedar Rapids by Phil Johnston – A small town insurance salesman heads off to the “big city” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to try and save his company.
6) Londongrad by David Scarpa – This is an adaptation of the Alan Cowell book, “The Terminal Spy: A True Story of Espionage, Betrayal and Murder” which is supposedly about the death of that soviet spy who was poisoned by radioactive tea.
7) L.A. Rex by Will Beall (based on his novel of the same name) – Rookie LAPD officer Ben Halloran gets partnered with scarred and tobacco-spitting Officer Marquez, and the unlikely team hit the streets of L.A. on the brink of a gang-rivalry explosion amid run-ins with the Mexican mafia, brutal gang murders, and corrupt cops.
8) Desperados by Ellen Rapoport – Wesley Robbins, a 30-something single attorney with an unhealthy obsession with coupling up, thinks she’s found the perfect man. But when he doesn’t call for days after the first time they sleep together she freaks out and sends him a scathing email, only to learn he’s been laid up in a Mexican hospital with some broken bones. On a whim, she and her girlfriends travel down south to erase the email before she ruins what she believes could be her one true love.
9) The Gunslinger by John Hlavin – When a Texas Ranger is horrifically tortured and killed, his sharp-shooter older brother, Sam Lee Hensley, plots revenge against the mysterious, sadistic leader of a notorious drug cartel.
10-tie) By Way Of Helena by Matt Cook – Set in the south at the turn of the century, Texas Ranger David Kingston and his Mexican bride are sent down to the mysterious town of Helena to investigate the multiple Mexican bodies washing up in the river. What they discover is an idyllic-like town where everything is not as it seems.
10-tie) The Days Before by Chad St. John – A man from the future keeps hopping one successive day into the past, desperate to stop a vicious race of time-traveling aliens from wiping out humanity.